September 7 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” ~Proverbs 12:1

Lectio Divina

OLD TESTAMENT

Like a lot of parents, I like to give my boys parting words to ponder as they head off to school. “Love you, man. Live with all your might,” for example.  In many ways, the proverbs work the same way. The book is a collection of one-liners often given by a father to a son. A little advice here, a little encouragement there, and every word delivered in a way sure to be remembered.

In Proverbs 11-12, the sage commends righteousness and integrity as the most advantageous way to live. “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but the Lord condemns the crafty” (v. 12:2). In his own unique style, He explains that the way up is down and the way down is up: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (v. 11:2). The sage has learned from experience that “eating your own words” can be a good thing, if the words are good. “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him” (v. 12:14). Of course, the careless can cut others as with a sword using only their mouth (v. 12:18).

The sage also commends kindness (even to animals); calmness in the face of criticism (v. 12:16); generosity even when things are tight (vv. 11:24-26); and good industry or doing one’s work well (v. 12:24).  If we receive the sage’s words of wisdom with humble hearts, we will be blessed. If we do not, we are being plain dumb! In Solomon’s words, “Whoever loves discipline [corrective instruction] loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” (v. 12:1).

NEW TESTAMENT

There are some curious statements and convoluted sentences in 1 Corinthians 15. Like any preacher, Paul occasionally gets on a roll and just keeps going until he is done. Each biblical writer has his own style. (Of course, their words are still breathed out by God and for our benefit.)

The point of 1 Corinthians 15 is that there is a real, physical resurrection. Apparently, some in the church denied that fact. Deniers may have been influenced by Greek ideas about the soul. Some Greek philosophers believed that the soul was the only thing that lived on after death and it was the prisoner of the body. Death brought release! Over time, some people mixed this and other Greek ideas with Christian theology and developed a heretical philosophy called Gnosticism. Gnostics considered the material/physical world evil and valued only the spiritual. Once this heresy developed into a full-blown theological tradition, it eroded several important Christian views. In order to be consistent, a Gnostic had to reject the goodness of creation (it is physical!), the goodness of physical pleasure, the fact that Jesus was really a physical man (a holy God can’t take on flesh!), and the doctrine of a physical resurrection (bodies are bad). Strands of this false doctrine are still entwined in the Christian church even today.

Meanwhile, in the real world, we’re looking forward to a real, physical resurrection. Why? Because Christ was raised from the dead. He not only appeared to His disciples, He joined them on the beach, built a fire, cooked some fish, and ate with them. He told the doubters to touch Him if they couldn’t believe their eyes! This intensely human yet mundanely physical experience of Christ’s bodes well for us. The physical resurrection of our bodies—and the physical restoration of the universe—is indeed our hope. In considering Paul’s missive to the Corinthians, theologian Michael Wittmer writes, “Because Jesus is the ‘firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’ (1 Cor. 15:20), we may surmise that, like the resurrected Christ, our future life on the new earth will repair rather than remove our humanity” (Heaven is a Place on Earth).


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.